[Osmf-talk] My November 2018 email to the board about the GlobalLogic signups

Mikel Maron mikel.maron at gmail.com
Sat Feb 2 17:37:37 UTC 2019

And btw there has been a few references to the situation with mass sign up situation Skobbler back in 2011, when I was previously on the Board.
> There is a historical precedent at https://lists.openstreetmap.org/pipermail/osmf-talk/2011-August/001139.html. The minutes don’t say much, but Mikel, who was on the board then too, can maybe remember?
The Skobbler situation was much more straightforward in that everything about it was known to the Board up front. One Board Member worked for Skobbler, and had tried to openly pay en mass for those sign ups directly to the Membership Secretary (before we had the MWG, this was a board position). It was heated and messy, but everyone on the Board quickly agreed that mass sign ups are not the intention of membership. The membership payment was withdrawn, and the OSMF notified the membership within one day of it being raised as a Board issue.
I checked my email and this was my initial response. I still stick by this view today.
> I think a collective sign up or renewal is a problem. That's what a corporate/organizational membership would be for. Why not sign up as individuals? If they each really really want this, they'll go to the small bother of registering as individuals. I don't care who ultimately pays for it. Their company can encourage them. But it really should be an individual decision. The whole point of memberships process is to have a small barrier, so they really do want to be a part. Otherwise, it would be just as simple as signing up for an osm.org account.
And here's an interesting note from SteveC from the time.
> I can see an arms race with companies signing everyone up. CloudMade, skobbler. What if someone with 100 employees does this? Or 1,000? It doesn't work going forward. What if I signed up the 10,000 people from bing mobile, or 300 people in maps (I don't know the figures, but you get the point).
We've known the membership model in OSMF was not perfect the first day we opened membership in 2006 for 5 GBP. This was 2006 -- osm.org was a wildly ambitious but absurd and not really functional idea by a very small collection of folks mainly in the UK and Germany. We knew on that very day that it was vulnerable and not going to be adequate in the future for our governance. But we did the simplest thing at the time. This governance model worked remarkably well for all its haphazard weakness. 
13 years on, it's time to figure out what kind of governance we need for a project of global scope and world changing impact.

* Mikel Maron * +14152835207 @mikel s:mikelmaron 

    On Saturday, February 2, 2019, 12:21:22 PM EST, Mikel Maron, OSM <mikel at osmfoundation.org> wrote:  
 Thanks for sharing this Guillaume. I'm sure folks will have lots of different ways to interpret this. But here's mine, in case you are interested. Here's the sentence that I interpreted as the main decision you were posing for us to consider on the reality of these sign ups.
> Taken together, these facts suggest a coordinated sign-up, and we must investigate whether this is just an employer encouraging their employees to join, or whether someone has actually contracted an outsourcing company to create artificial memberships
Myself nor anyone else on the Board ever thought this was not coordinated in some way. The choice laid out by your email was whether this is an overly enthusiastic employer actually doing OSM with a pretty odd sign up pattern (which you don't suggest is a problem in the email), or someone _hiring_ GL to create "artificial memberships" (certainly a problem).
I don't really parse the difference between "artificial memberships" and "fake accounts" to be honest. The key thing I looked at was that there was no evidence then or now that GL was _contracted_ specifically to create OSMF memberships. Much less was known then about the detailed oddities in their sign up pattern that was laid out in the report. It seemed entirely plausible at that point that GL had simply been overly enthusiastic in promoting membership to their mappers. Even with all the possibilities floating around now on GL's motivation, this idea that the GL was hired to do this seems like a conspiracy theory. 
The Board did respond, with a circular vote. Not directly to you, as this was not something official from the MWG, and a difficult request to parse amidst an election by both a candidate and a MWG member. I believe that not everyone on the MWG at that time thought this was an issue that required blocking these accounts? The Board did discus at length, and decided we did not have sufficient evidence to determine these were "artificial memberships" or "fake accounts", and that especially since they were not eligible for voting in that election, the issue to block them at that point was not urgent. There was a lot else going on at the moment as well. The Board still has the right to examine and decide on these memberships, as we are actively doing.
* Mikel Maron * +14152835207 @mikel s:mikelmaron 

    On Saturday, February 2, 2019, 10:30:15 AM EST, Guillaume Rischard <openstreetmap at stereo.lu> wrote:  
 Hi everyone,
My appeal to the board about the GlobalLogic signups and the board’s response to it has been mentioned here. I am forwarding it unedited in the interest of transparency and because I feel it’s been misrepresented.
I didn't suggest that those could be '"fake accounts" not connected to actual people', which is a straw man argument, but ‘artificial memberships’.
Back then, we didn’t know that those new members wouldn’t be allowed to vote.
My appeal to temporarily reject the application was rejected - see https://wiki.osmfoundation.org/wiki/Board/Minutes/2018-12-20#2018.2FRes12_Preliminarily_reject_and_individually_inspect_all_membership_applications_from_India_from_15.11.2018 . Those against said my claim was “not supported”.
The board never officially replied to me.

Begin forwarded message:
From: Guillaume Rischard <…>

Subject: Important: Massive block of irregular OSMF sign-ups from India on 2018-11-15
Date: 20 November 2018 at 01:41:13 CET
To: board at osmfoundation.org

Dear OSMF board,
the Membership Working Group is seeing a significant number of irregular sign-ups for OSMF membership, and I am requesting an urgent board decision on them.
100 new members from India completed an OSMF membership application within a few hours on the 15th, just in time to vote in the board election.
99 are associate members. Our usual ratio is roughly ⅓ associate members.
98 have gmail addresses. While gmail is the most common member domain, our usual user base is a lot more varied.
93 are in a block between 8:00 and 13:00 server time and have no OSM account listed, with 47 between 8:00 and 8:30. Mixed in with this block are three signups which contain an OSM username. One of the accounts has no edits.
Of the 61 email addresses that have OSM accounts, not all but a lot were created from the same IP, which has created 242 OSM accounts before. It belongs to Global Logic, an IT outsourcing provider that has been contracted to edit OSM in the past and has received multiple complaints from the OSM community.
No names appeared when I searched for mentions related to OSM, or appear in the list of SotM Asia speakers
100 new osmf members is enormous considering the number of active mappers there. It makes India, with 121 members in total, the place with the most OSMF members per active mapper (1.05). As a comparison, the UK has 0.66 OSMF members per active mapper.
145 members in total joined on the 15th.
Looking at new memberships from the 11th to the 17th, there are about 380. Of them 57% have supplied OSM usernames, and they come from a typical mix of OSM countries and times. The sign-ups show no other block like this, but a healthy diverse mix of email hosts, normal and associate members, osm usernames, countries.
Taken together, these facts suggest a coordinated sign-up, and we must investigate whether this is just an employer encouraging their employees to join, or whether someone has actually contracted an outsourcing company to create artificial memberships.
Some of you know I’ve been concerned about special interest groups joining the OSMF to influence the election, not only because I am a candidate, but also as a member of MWG. Buying the OSMF board election through outsourcing is unacceptable.
According to our articles of association, ‘The board may reject an application for membership or associate membership within 7 days of receipt of the appropriate fee in cleared funds.’ I’m asking the board to initially reject the 100 applications, and all applications that are linked to IP addresses used by them. MWG can then contact the applicants individually, and report to the board so that the board can still decide whether the applications should be accepted or not. “Within 7 days” is ambiguous; the board should ideally take a decision while it’s 2018-11-20 in London.
There is a historical precedent at https://lists.openstreetmap.org/pipermail/osmf-talk/2011-August/001139.html. The minutes don’t say much, but Mikel, who was on the board then too, can maybe remember?
I won’t publicly write about this for now because I’m afraid it would turn into a witch hunt, but hope to hear back from you very soon.


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